If you've been on pins and needles for the past few weeks, eagerly anticipating Business Ethics magazine's annual ranking of 2006's "Best Corporate Citizens," you can exhale now. The results are in!
It may surprise some to learn that technology companies have turned in the most impressive performance. Permit me to share the top 10 firms first (you can see the entire list at business-ethics.com):
- GreenMountainCoffee Roasters (Nasdaq: GMCR )
- Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE: AMD )
- Motorola (NYSE: MOT )
- Agilent Technologies (NYSE: A )
- Salesforce.com (NYSE: CRM )
- Cisco Systems
- Dell (Nasdaq: DELL )
- TexasInstruments (NYSE: TXN )
The Business Ethics folks examined numerous factors in evaluating each company: shareholders, community, governance, diversity, employees, environment, human rights, and products. Specifically, they weighed factors such as the company's stock performance over the past three years, the firms' charitable giving, pollution prevention and recycling, transparency in political contributions, social reporting, CEO pay, employee benefits, and more.
Green Mountain Coffee Roasters earned its highest marks in the community category, partly due to generous donations. Hewlett-Packard's top score was also in community, though it also scored very high in diversity. AMD majored in community and minored in environment. Motorola scored highest in environment, as did Timberland. Agilent, Salesforce.com, and Cisco topped out in community, with Salesforce.com also scoring very well in returns to shareholders. Dell and Texas Instruments got top marks for employee relations.
I was pleased to note that eight of the top 50 companies had been recommended as promising investments in our suite of investing newsletters. (Dell, for example, has been singled out by our analysts.)
If you think that companies that focus on doing the right thing aren't likely to meet with as much success as their less principled competitors, think again. The Domini 400 Social Index has outperformed the S&P 500 in the 15 years it's been around. Meanwhile, top-ranking Green Mountain Coffee Roasters has struck a deal with a small food purveyor called McDonald's, offering its java under the golden arches.
If socially responsible companies interest you, learn more in Finding Feel-Good Companies. You might also opt to let some smart money managers find and invest in them for you, via socially responsible mutual funds. Shannon Zimmerman recommended one in our Champion Funds newsletter a little more than a year ago, and it's up some 17%, vs. 8% for its corresponding index. (Try the newsletter for free, and you'll be able to see all our picks and how well they've done.)
Here are some recent Fool articles on some of the top corporate citizens:
The Motley Fool has its own form of good corporate citizenship -- Foolanthropy, our annual reader-nominated charity drive. This year's campaign will be sponsored by good corporate citizen Hilton Family Hotels as part of its "Be Hospitable" campaign.
Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian owns shares of Dell, which does double duty as aMotley Fool Stock AdvisorandMotley Fool Inside Valuepick. The Fool has a disclosure policy.